Memphis Musings

It took us 16 hours to drive to Memphis.  Google maps said it should have taken 12 hours.  Lots or rain, lots of traffic and cruise control set to 60 probably kept me from reaching Memphis in 12 hours.  Myworld pulled into the Marriott with the hour past midnight.  Fortunately, they kept my reservations.

The morning walk was to Auto Zone park where we bought the ticket to the game for tonight.  The park fits the city.  It has an old fashioned flair to it.  We will have a better idea of the park after tonight.

There are some big name musicians that have grown up in Memphis and played along Beale street.  The most notable are Elvis Presley and B.B. King.  The man described as King of the Blues W.C. Handy also grew up here.  Historical markers, instead of the places themselves now mark the clubs and bars where they used to play.

W.C. Handy wrote “Beale Street Blues” on a cigar counter at a place called Pee Wee Saloon.  It has now been replaced by a Hard Rock Café.  There was also the Palace Theatre where B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland got their starts.  Now a Coyote Ugly and next to it a New Daisy rock and roll club stand in its place.  At least New Daisy still promotes music.

Fed Ex Forum, where the professional basketball team plays does not really fit in the neighborhood, right behind Beale Street.  It looks like of monster of modern life gobbling up the antique look of the city.  That look died a number of years ago with the civil rights movement.

Beale Street was a place blacks went to make a living, party and just live because they were not allowed to hang out in most places of white society.  After the civil rights movement the world opened up to them and Beale Street like the Negro Leagues became forgotten.  There are still nightclubs there and Memphis style barbecue restaurants, but they have established themselves under a different set of circumstances and cater to a new set of customers.

Ida B. Wells worked as an editor of the Memphis Free Speech located on Beale Street.  When she wrote about the lynching of three black businessmen her newspaper office was destroyed and her life threatened.  She moved to New York where she co-founded the NAACP.  It appears those men should not have messed with Ida B. Wells.

The sidewalks along Beale Street is littered with musical notes embedded in the cement with the names of such musical luminaries as Elvis Presley, Blues Brothers, Carl Perkins, the Staple Singers and B.B. King.  Even Justin Timberlake has a name here, though it was partially covered by one of the stands in front of a restaurant located there.

Elvis Presley has a statue of himself located along Beale street, but outside the blocked off area where all the clubs and bars are located.  It is almost as if they have identified him as an outsider with where they have erected his statue, in front of a giant building housing the Memphis Light, Gas and Water.  W.C. Handy has a statue of himself located in the middle of Beale Street, where all the action is.  He belongs in the center of Beale Street, Elvis does not.

Myworld will go to the game tonight.  We will also take a stroll down Beale Street to see the activity there.  We expect it to be hopping, but not with the same crowd that filled up Beale Street in the 1930s.  If time permits, we will report after the game, otherwise it may have to await until our arrival in Dallas.

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